Tesco’s in Congleton can’t be arsed to open checkouts

This guest post was written by Simon

I general, I abhor shopping in supermarkets. It is a fairly dull, dreary task, that doesn’t get anymore exciting the more you do it. Shopping when they are busy is even more upsetting. To avoid this scenario, I tend to go into supermarkets, specifically Tesco’s in Congleton, before I get to work, around 7 – 7.20 am. Unsurprisingly, the store is very quiet at this time in the morning, which is exactly how I like it.

However, it is still open for business, at least that was the impression I got from the fact that the store has “24 hour opening”. So I was rather disappointed to find when I got the checkouts this morning, they were all closed. This wasn’t due to the lack of staff available, just an unwillingness to do any work. I was then directed to the “self serve” checkouts by what looked like a checkout supervisor (the supermarket equivalent of a Russian mafia boss).

I hate the self-service checkouts. My objection to self-service checkouts is pretty straightforward. I work a considerable number of hours a week, so I do not want to put in another 10 minutes at Tesco’s grappling with a machine that doesn’t know what a banana is. What annoyed me even more is that there was a checkout assistant on an actual checkout. Instead of being available for customers, she was wiping it down with a cloth, presumably on the off chance that she might have the ingenuity to open it and serve customers in the store.

As if this wasn’t enough, whilst using the self-service checkout, I had another (slightly obese) member of staff point out that my “satsuma’s were not oranges”. Thanks for that information you moron! She then carefully watched me toil with the self-service checkout until the transaction was complete. Instead of watching customers process their own shopping, would it not be more courteous to open a checkout?

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2 thoughts on “Tesco’s in Congleton can’t be arsed to open checkouts”

  1. I had a similar experience this morning. I have always refused to use the self-service checkouts because my partner lost a fiver in one at our local Tesco. When she complained, she was treated like she was just trying it on, and it took some considerable time before someone arrived to open the machine and find her fiver caught in the mechanism. No apology was forthcoming. This morning, at the same Tesco, I arrived at the unmanned checkout, and a member of staff pointed to the self-service machines. I said quite clearly that I don’t like using them, to which she took my single item I was buying, put it in the bag and said, put your money in there. I was annoyed with her, but more annoyed with myself that I put my money in, and did not just walk out. It does make me wonder if it’s Tesco’s unwritten policy that using these machines is mandatory at certain times of the day. Can you imagine banks having the same policy? When I’m queuing at my local Barclays to pay in a cheque, staff sometimes suggest I could use the machines, but are perfectly understanding when I tell them I’d rather not. I am going to complain to Tesco about this, as I think it is just bad service.

  2. I sent this email to the Chief Exec:

    Dear Sir Leahy,

    Ref: Complaints about Checkouts Evening Closing Policy at Borehamwood Store

    Having exhausted the complaints procedure within the store, I am writing to you on behalf of a number of Customers and I would really appreciate your assistance with our Group complaint:

    Summary of Complaint:

    Tesco have operated a 24 hour service at the Borehamwood Store for some years now and as residents of Borehamwood we find this very beneficial.

    However over recent months this pleasure and benefit has been severely marred by what appears to be a new policy of closing all your manned checkouts between 10pm to 11pm for the remainder of the night. Customers then have no choice but to use the self-service checkouts. This is not practical for many customers and many of us are now very angry. I am in the process of setting up an Action Group, Petition and Media pack (subject to your initial response).

    Whilst some customers like the self-service checkouts, there are many of us who don’t. E.g. disabled people, people who aren’t feeling 100% fit, people who can’t cope with the stress of self-service tills, people shopping on their own without anyone to help them, people with big full trolleys, families with young children, lonely people who like someone to speak to, people who need assistance with packing their bags, people who like to feel they are treated with respect and people who just want to put their items through a manned checkout where it is much easier to unload and load up their goods. Tesco’s have clearly not considered the impact of this policy on any of these groups of people.

    In practical terms – I spoke to a number of other customers tonight (who are now part of this Action Group and some who are copied in on this email) and we all had large trolleys of items, whilst on this occasion we were all able to use the manned checkouts, had any of us joined the queue a short while later we would have had no choice but to use the self-service checkouts. It just simply isn’t practical to unload 100 or so items, self-scan them, put items in the packing area which then starts to overflow, whilst you are still trying to unload and scan what is still in your trolley etc. I can’t repack my trolley till its empty by which time my goods are now being placed on the floor – this is very unhygienic! My goods get damaged as I am trying to do all these tasks without any assistance and a lack of packing space available and I end up feeling highly stressed and anxious, knowing there’s a big queue of people waiting for me and the other customers to hurry up, along with the self-service tills frequently coming up with error messages etc. Then there is the poor Checkout Employee who supervises these 8 self-service tills without any other staff support, and who gets no end of grief from the queuing customers and is also trying to deal with all the till errors/assistance required messages on these tills. I would politely like to challenge you to do this job one busy evening so you know what happens in reality. I would also like to seriously suggest that customers using the self-services tills get a discount off their shopping for having done the checkout work themselves!

    Last week, by luck, one checkout was manned till later in the evening (I was so thankful) – there were 15 people in this queue – I was fourth and it still took 30 minutes before I was served! The self-service queue was 30-40 people long, with 8 people using the checkouts. I would politely like to ask you to visit this store on say a Thursday evening between 10pm to 11.30pm and see for yourself the chaos that is going on, the level of complaints and the feeling of the customers etc.

    I do also feel there is a serious potential risk for both customers and staff’s health and safety e.g. with customers anger getting out of hand and an incident occuring or injuries occuring from trying to use the self-service tills and the likely increase in damaged goods and spillages etc! Has a risk assessment been carried out? The bad publicity and legal costs don’t bear thinking about! All because Tesco want to save some money ………….

    Progress with Complaint:

    I have complained in-store on a number of occasions and quite frankly I hit a dead-end with store staff and managers who said they sympathised but it wasn’t down to them. Last week I spoke to a slightly more helpful member of staff who informed me that the complaints were now being passed on to head office, along with photographs of the evidence of the long queues. Well the problem is still occurring!

    So the buck is now being passed fairly and squarely on to yourself, in the hope that you can help us resolve this ridiculous policy. Of course, you may not even be aware of this situation.

    What do we the Customers understand and what do we the customers want Tesco to understand?

    We understand Tesco’s is a business and want to make a profit – that’s fine – we know from the media that Tesco do in fact make a substantial profit. So if Tesco do want to still cut costs, please do this where it doesn’t impact on the customer or frontline staff, who are worth their weight in gold. Instead cut costs and reduce salaries higher up the hierarchy if you really want to save money!

    If it helps focus minds – between myself and the six other customers I spoke to tonight, we have probably spent around at least £500,000 to £1m over the years at Tesco and all we want in return are reasonably priced items and a good customer service.

    Bearing in mind that Checkout Operatives get paid something between the minimum wage to maybe £8 per hour if they are lucky – then to man one of the checkouts for a further three hours will only cost Tesco say a maximum of £24 per day – even if you times that figure by all the stores with this new policy I think you’ll find it is worth it by means of keeping us customers happy! I think Tesco’s money saving idea of doing away with this longer manned checkout service is an argument rather dead in the water if I may say so! As customers we all know that bigger savings can be made higher up the hierarchy!

    What do we the Customers want as the solution?

    In simple terms all we want as customers is a choice of checkouts – manned checkouts say until 1am and self-service the rest of the night and good customer service and respect.

    Thank you for reading this email and I look forward to hearing from you shortly.


    Sue Alford – Borehamwood

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